The New York Knicks are coming off a disappointing defeat to the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday evening, littered with officiating controversy. After the contest, forward Julius Randle and head coach Tom Thibodeau spoke to the media, indicating their displeasure with some of the calls made (and not made), specifically against Randle, who didnâ€™t earn the same equality as Kevin Durant and James Harden.
However, the Knicks will look to bounce back against the Chicago Bulls on Thursday at MSG.
Three keys for the Knicks to take down Chicago:
1.) Guard the perimeter
Chicago has lost three of their last five games but scored 133 points against Charlotte in their most recent victory. They shot 46.7% from three-point range and nearly 60% from the field, elite numbers from their starting team. Center Nikola Vucevic hit all six of his three-point attempts as Lonzo Ball connected on five.
With some of the best starters in the NBA, the Knicks will have a challenging task ahead of them, trying to limit their production. Small forward DeMar DeRozan is having an incredible season, averaging 25.9 points, 4.2 assists, and shooting nearly 50% from the field. With an impeccable mid-range game, limiting DeRozan will be a focal point.
However, New York canâ€™t allow Zach LaVine to get hot from deep either, as he connected on 10 shots from the field against Charlotte. Heâ€™s shooting 38.4% from deep this season and averaging and 25.3 points per game.
The Knicks have stepped up considerably with their perimeter defense lately, and they need to maintain consistency moving forward.
2.) High energy play
The Knicks have had issues maintaining high energy levels, especially to start games and at the beginning of the second half. Against Brooklyn on Tuesday, they found themselves in a near 20-point deficit in the third quarter, having to crawl their way back slowly before ultimately losing in the final moments.
When the Knicks are playing with gusto and showing aggression, their efficiency on defense usually increases significantly. That is primarily why Obi Toppin has made an impact this year, providing a high work rate on both sides of the floor.
3.) Stifle DeMar DeRozan
As stated above, limiting DeMar DeRozan is a priority for New York. His ability to finish close to the basket and connect from mid-range makes him an incredibly difficult player to stop.
DeRozan likes to do a lot of the dirty work on his own, with 75.4% of his field goals made coming unassisted. Expect to see plenty of Julius Randle and RJ Barrett on DeRozan, who can easily tantalize the Knicks all on his own.
However, New York also has to be wary of Vucevic, who is a fantastic modern center who can shoot from range.